OK let me preface this by saying that I have a viscerally negative reaction to seeing Glen Scotia single malt on a menu or in a tasting. I have disliked every Glen Scotia that I have tried, and have begun to associate the otherwise-innocent distillery with the entire downfall of Campbeltown whisky. Luckily this blog forces me to have an open mind. There are more expressions to review, so I continue tasting despite my prejudices and biases. Some readers have suggested that I temper my disdain for Glen Scotia by trying Double Cask, a partially-sherried finished NAS malt in the same vein as The Balvenie DoubleWood 12, but without the age statement. I probably would have forgotten entirely about this suggestion, but I fortuitously happened upon a sample in my haul of Master of Malt ‘drinks by the dram’ minis from last year. Apparently Past Me figured that I needed to review it.
Glen Scotia, one of the two remaining Campbeltown distilleries, is known for a house character that involves mild peat (like the lesser-peated Springbanks), an oily mouthfeel, and some variant of lemon peel notes. It’s hard to have a conversation about Glen Scotia without someone redirecting the topic to Springbank, which everyone just sort of agrees is better in every way. See? I just did it. I bet Glen Scotia people hate that.
Double Cask is a NAS vatting of Glen Scotia single malt aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and is finished for “up to a year” in Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks. Let me stop a moment to ask… why on earth do marketers use phrases like “up to a year”? I mean… zero seconds is included under the umbrella of “up to a year”. Gah.
Nose: Tropical fruits up the wazoo. (What the heck is a wazoo? Oh.) Kiwi, fresh green banana, white tea, raspberries, white peach, and a delicate floral note like honeysuckle or jasmine. A rest in the glass makes this even better, with an undercurrent of caramel syrup and peanut butter to contrast the fruits.
Palate: Medium body, not quite syrupy. Oaky up front, with lots of vanilla and a hearty dose of cinnamon. A strident tongue burn (surprising for 46%) is accompanied by a few dried fruits (apricot, date), a mouth-drying dollop of tannins, and a peanut buttery maltiness that reminds me of some porters.
Finish: Short. An herbal quality, something in between black tea and herb cough drops, dominates the finish. There is no bitterness, but also not much evolution. Subsequent sips have more oak and sugar in them, which brings the finish back into balance.
With Water: A few drops of water add a little more of that caramel (and some vanilla) to the aroma. The flavor seems a little brighter, with more nuttiness, as does the finish. Try both without and then with a little water.
Overall: Holy frijoles, this is miles better than the (older) 15 year-old expression, which I almost-but-don’t-quite hate. The aroma is heavenly, the liquid on the tongue is well-balanced and emphatic, and the finish is complex. It’s bottled at the appropriate 46% ABV, as well. Too bad there’s no age statement.
Turns out that Glen Scotia really just needed some sherry to shine. (Update: or some rum!)